Maintaining And Protecting Your Home

Since purchasing their home two years ago, Cora and Cary Johnson have done close to $10,000 worth of property improvements that have increased the value of their home by $100,000. “We paid $275,000 [for our home], and recently we were offered $376,000,” says Cora.

The Johnsons, both 38, are beneficiaries of a recent surge in southern California property values, and the work they’ve put into their house has given it added value.

“We had the backyard landscaped and we installed indoor ceiling sprinklers and a security system with monitors on all the doors, as well as sensors throughout the house,” says Cora of her Inglewood, California, home. “This system is connected to a central station, which will call the police in case of an emergency. I wouldn’t stay in a house without a security system.”

Other enhancements include new kitchen cabinets, tile flooring, renovated bathrooms, and a paint job. “We have tried to keep our house in good condition by checking on things such as the roof and the electrical system,” says Cora. “That’s what you need to do in order to maintain your investment.”

Indeed, if you’re a homeowner, your house is a major investment. Failure to “mend your fences” can cost you money and lifestyle comforts. Paying attention to the home front can produce precious property value appreciation. Once you’ve made the investment in a new home or decided to do improvements on your existing property, you can protect it and increase its value by doing the following:

Add value with additions. One way to increase your home’s re-sale price is by making major improvements. It’s important to remember that some projects will increase in value more than others. According to Remodeling magazine’s latest cost-versus-value report, bathroom improvements tend to rate the highest, in terms of payback.

However, “it’s the quality of the home improvements, not the category, that add the most value,” says Roderick McDaniel, a real estate broker and co-founder of Huntingron Browne Real Estate in Inglewood. “Cora and Cary Johnson, for example, used high-quality, long-lasting tiles and durable fixtures. These features make their home stand out.” Similar upgrades could include light fixtures, doorknobs, and faucets with nontarnishing warranties.

Buyers are a lot smarter today, says McDaniel. “People know what they should look for when they shop for a home,” he says. “It pays to go for top quality with home improvements because your own lifestyle will be enhanced while you’re in the house, and the re-sale value will also increase.”

McDaniel says built-in additions are preferable to anything movable, which should be taken into consideration when adding bookshelves, benches, or a home theater system. An exception: “Don’t put bars on your windows,” he advises, “because that may detract from a home’s value. Instead, install a sophisticated home security system.”

Count on curb appeal. Your home’s exterior should create a desire to own the home, which is why it’s vital to schedule regular paint jobs and keep up on yard work. Edging your lawn, mulching, and planting some shrubs are all worthwhile activities. “The